CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WE ARE FAM-I-LY!

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 8 branchesWe are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
 
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
 
Luke 8 allEveryone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose
 
We are family (Hey, y’all)
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing (sing it to me)
 
Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of this world’s delights
(High) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
 
No, we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family jewel
 
We are family (hey, sing it to me)
I got all my sisters with me
We are family (oh, I can hear you now)
Get up everybody and sing
 
luke-8-this-is-us-family.jpegWho doesn’t like to hear and sing along? This uplifting, joyful song sung by Sister Sledge almost has it right. Include the brothers and sisters together in Christ and you’ve got it! Here’s my lyric modifications:
We are family…Have faith in Christ and the things HE does and you won’t go wrong. THIS is our family jewel or goal! AND..Share in the delights of Jesus and what pleases Him! Yes, we are family! How do I know? The Bible tells me so!
 
Luke 8, New Living Translation
The True Family of Jesus
Luke 8 true family19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to see you.”
 
21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Luke 8 family hears and does.jpgJesus took this as an opportunity to teach another spiritual lesson: being a part of His spiritual family is much more important than any human relationship and is based on obedience to the Word of God. It is not enough to “hear” the Word of God; we must also “keep it” (Luke 8:15).
 
As His disciples, His brothers and sisters who believe, we must concentrate and meditate on what we hear (Mark 4:24) and how we hear (Luke 8:18), because God will hold us accountable. Listening to the wrong things, or listening to the right things with the wrong attitude, will rob us of truth and blessing. If we are faithful to receive the Word and share it, God will give us more, but if we fail to let our light shine, we will lose what we have. It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God.
 
Luke 8 this is us calledWe are family!
 
Luke 8 family
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
You love us so relentlessly and unconditionally. Help us to love like you love! You give us Your Word to understand so we can quickly obey. We obey because we want to please You from our reference point of loving you back. Thank you for bringing all who believe into your family. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for all our sins so we could come into the family. Continue to help us understand then do what You say.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
 
And now that song is stuck in my mind…Hopefully, like me it will remind you Jesus and His work to bring us together to God! We are family! Through good times and bad, we are family!
 
“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
Romans 8:17, NLT
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THE FOOLISH COVER UP

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 8, New Living Translation
Parable of the Lamp
 
Luke 8 the cover up16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
 
18 “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”
 
HOLY PAUSE!
 
Luke 8 for allWe cannot receive The Light of the world, Jesus Christ, into our once dark hearts, enlightening our minds and flooding our souls and then try to cover Him up with continuing in our selfish ways. Once the Messiah has entered in, He’s in. It would foolish and impossible to hide The Light of Salvation.
 
Listen as we read this out loud, slowly…”“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed.” Lamps gave light because of oil being set on fire. Consider how dangerous it would have been back then to put even a small amount of fire under a wooden bowl or under the mattress made of straw! Imagine Jesus telling this example with explaining how foolish it would be to try to keep the light hidden. In the process of covering up the light, your fire might go out or, worse yet, you could set your house on fire! It is not only foolish but dangerous to hide the Light. In the best of circumstances it is crazy to receive The Light and then do your best to cover up the fact that you know Christ!
 
Luke 8 lampI am reminded what Jesus said later to his followers, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)
 
I do not think I could handle the shame of hiding The Light of my life, can you?
 
Are we ashamed of knowing Christ? What does our behavior show?
 
LUke 8 so those will see
Do we hide knowing and living for Him at work, in our family gatherings or with our group of friends while socializing? Are we afraid of that conversation of saving grace?
 
“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”
 
The Light of Jesus in us should be at the front of our thinking, be seen by our smile, and reflected in our eyes! The Light of Jesus should be glorified in our behaviors as we journey in a dark world without Him.
 
Luke 8 home light
Don’t hide Him! Let what you have SHINE!
 
“A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.”
 
Jesus is The Light of the world. He came for all. All need to see The Light and be guided by The Light. There is nothing worse than finding your way in a dark room, bumping and tripping over obstacles that cause bruises and brokenness. Put The Light where it can be seen by all.
 
luke-8-shine.jpgDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Lord, you have promised that more understanding of what you are saying will be given to those who are listening. I’m listening, Lord. I am convicted, challenged and corrected by Your Word this morning. Help me to live in ways that please You and glorify Who You are. May Your Light shine brightly in me today. You cannot be hidden! You are God and I am not.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
 
Sing with me…SHINE (by Newsboys)
 
Shine.
Make ’em wonder whatcha got.
Make ’em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Shine.
Let it shine before all men.
Let em see good works and then
Let em glorify the Lord.
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WHAT’S GROWING?

Luke – Doors Wide Open
 
Luke 8, New Living Translation
Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed
luke-8-god.jpg4 One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
 
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
 
‘When they look, they won’t really see.
When they hear, they won’t understand.’
 
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
 
HOLY PAUSE
In what “soil” do we reside?
Is God’s Word growing in us?
Is the seed of His Word taking root and going deep into our hearts, minds and souls?
 
Which category are we?
–Those who hear the message but lose focus on God quickly allowing the devil lead us away from the Truth to lies and deception of all that isn’t God’s Truth? (Footpath)
 
–Those who hear but refuse to understand but we care only for making a living, raising a family and seeking to please ourselves? Never growing and maturing…(Thorns)
 
–Those that receive Christ but don’t live for Christ by getting to know Him? (Rocky Soil)
 
–Those who hear, understand, with joy and excitement to see what God will do next on their journey. They know God’s Word because the long to know God through His Word. They cling to Him through His Word. Through good times and bad times, rain or shine, a harvest of fruit begin to grow. The fruit of patience, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, honesty, faithfulness, the list of the characteristics of Christ, becomes abundant on the branches of our lives lived for Him.
 
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:22-26, NLT
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
This is the story of You in us. Continue to work in us, through us, for your glory and honor.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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WOMEN WELCOMED IN MINISTRY WITH JESUS!

Luke – Wide Open Doors!
 
Luke 7 following as women
Wait, what? Women in that day and time were not valued as much as men. They were mostly in the background of life. Only a few exceptions, “standouts” for “such a time as this” women were mentioned in God’s Word. We think of Esther, Debra the judge, Ruth and Naomi, and Rahab, all women from all walks of life, who God used in specific circumstances to declare his glory. But women were not celebrated or understood as equals…until Jesus.
 
Jesus comes to earth to seek lost people and turn them back to God while explaining to all what God intended from His Law. At the center of God’s Law is love. Jesus exemplifies this amazing love to all people. Jesus explains that one person is not above another person. Women are not an exception. Women are included in the “all”. We, brothers and sisters, love God because He first loved us.
 
luke-7-women-1.0.jpgWomen are not only mentioned but they are an important part of the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ our Lord and their Lord. Upon believing in Him, they follow Him and contribute to His ministry financially. The women supported Jesus and the other disciples because they believed in Jesus and his work to seek and to save lost people. Later, at the foot of the cross, it would be these women who stayed with Christ. It would be these women who brought spices to the tomb to dignify the body of Christ. It would be these women who would be the first to meet the RISEN Christ and told to go tell the others!
 
HOLY PAUSE: Let that sink in. This is not a joking matter.
 
They didn’t ask for equality or a soap box. They just gratefully followed Jesus who had not only healed them but gave them value and significance in a world that did not at that time. In return, they gave Him all they had in this world…all of themselves and their resources. Jesus, Friend to sinners, Savior of ALL who believe. Jesus not only accepts all people but raises them up to be brothers and sisters, heirs with Him, in glory.
 
Luke 8, New Living Translation
Women Who Followed Jesus
Luke 8 allSoon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.
Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Everybody lives by faith in something or someone. The difference between the Christian believer and the unsaved person is not that one has faith and the other does not. They both have faith. The difference is in the object of their faith, for faith is only as good as the object. The Christian believer has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ, and he/she bases that faith on the Word of God.
 
luke-8-the-woman-healed.jpgMen and Women were created with specific gifts and talents and tasks they can do well because of their uniqueness. When we work together, with respect for each other’s differences and abilities as we follow Jesus, the ministry of Jesus is exponentially multiplied for Christ, in Christ, with Christ living in each one of us…brothers and sisters, united in Christ.
 
The apostle Paul explains the “we and us” in Christ well;
 
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
 
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
 
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
(Romans 8:12-18, NLT)
 
LUke 7 women followed tooDear Heavenly Father,
I believe. I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. I, too am grateful for your healing of my spirit, saving of my soul and the consistent transformation you are working in my life. I am a woman devoted to you and to your work to help others find, know and follow you. Keep me close to You, to hear You so I may quickly obey. You are the object of my faith! You give hope and joy, peace and love like no other can give.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
Singing the song we sang in choir yesterday’s corporate praise of God for it is still ringing in my mind,
 
God is!
God is the strength of my life, and my portion, forever!
 
My heart was wounded, I was pierced from within
Nevertheless I’m forever redeemed
Whom else in heaven, none on the earth, my desire is to be with Thee!
 
God is the strength of my life, and my portion, forever!
 
God is the joy and the strength of my life
He moves all pain, misery and strife
He promises to keep me, never to leave me,
never ever come short of His Word!
 
God is the strength of my life, and my portion, forever!
GOD IS!
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HOW BEAUTIFUL THE FEET OF OUR SAVIOR!

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
“My people will know My name; therefore they will know on that day that I am He who speaks. Here I am!” 7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:6-7, Berean Study Bible
 
Luke 7 feet
Our feet are probably the least beautiful on our physical bodies, at least they are on mine. Feet become calloused from walking, standing and sometimes running. Although not from running for me. In fact, if I’m running by you, then you better run, too, because something terrible is after me!
 
After years of standing and walking all day long as a teacher, my feet have taken a new form. The bones have stretched and grown a bit deformed but I’m Luke 7 feet dirtythankful for walking still. I am a fast walker, (which is annoying to some). I still walk about two miles a day. Feet are important to get us where we want to go. I’m grateful for my feet. Some have to use other forms to get around.
 
But beautiful? Not until I read this story of forgiveness and pure, unconditional love.
 
Luke 7, New Living Translation
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman
 
Luke 7 broken jar
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
 
Luke 7 deeply grateful39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
 
40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
 
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
 
41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
 
43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
 
“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
 
Luke 7 jar47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
 
49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”
 
50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
 
THINK ABOUT IT
It is easy to see that more sin that needs forgiving, more forgiveness is given by our Savior. Sin is sin. It doesn’t really matter how much sin, it matters if we have asked forgiveness of all our sins. Grateful are those with great sin to be forgiven. Grateful are those with sin at all to be forgiven.
 
LUke 7 all have sinnedNO ONE is beyond forgiveness from Jesus. No one.
 
Those same feet that were lavished with expensive perfume, perfume saved for her own burial someday, was broken and spilled out on the feet that would be torn and scarred by being nail to a cross for ALL our sin. All sin for all people. Yours and mine. Let that sink in.
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
It was a custom for the host to provide servants to wash the feet of guests who entered their homes. This custom brought refreshment to tired feet. The feet were dirty from walking in sandals on dusty roads. It was also to honor their guests by serving them in this way. This Pharisee who we read were all about the rules of the day did not even honor Jesus with feet washing. How rude. Jesus came in and immediately they ate.
 
Luke 7 born to forgiveA woman who knew her sin was determined to come to the One and only who could forgive her. She risks coming into the home of a Pharisee. It is such a gutsy thing to do that she is not stopped, only ridiculed as she weeps uncontrollably. She does not care. She throws all caution to the wind. She comes from behind Jesus in humility. She quickly breaks open her life savings and pours out the contents from the once sealed alabaster jar on the beautiful feet who has brought good news!
 
HOLY PAUSE…
What is the extent of our love?
 
Would we give up our life savings for forgiveness?
 
Guess what, today, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, the debt of sin is paid in full. We only need to give ourselves to him. ALL of us to all of Him. We need to humbly fall at his beautiful, nail-scared feet and ask for forgiveness. He will do it. He is waiting for us. He will wipe the slate clean. It is done. It is finished. He forgives when we ask with a sincere, repentant heart. Then, like no one else on earth can do, Jesus forgets the sin, never to remind us of it again!
 
Oh yes, how beautiful is the One who forgives completely because of His relentless, reckless love for us!
 
Luke 7 feet beautifulHOLY PAUSE
How beautiful are our feet? It depends on what we are carrying…
 
Are we carrying the Good News to others, pointing the way to Jesus who is Truth and gives Life?
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Savior and Lord,
How beautiful is this story of your forgiveness and love. How beautiful is the demonstration of the woman’s extreme love for you! I love you, Lord with all that is in me. I feel the woman’s heart for you. I know my sins are forgiven. I know your love for me. And I am grateful. These tears of gratitude are for you. Your were broken and spilled out for us. Oh, how you love us. I will meditate on your love all day long. How beautiful the story of forgiveness and love. Help me to love today like you love us. Unconditionally.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…
How beautiful the hands that served
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
How beautiful the feet that walked
the long dusty roads
and the hills to the cross.
 
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
 
How beautiful the heart that bled
that took all my sin
and bore it instead.
How beautiful the tender eyes
that chose to forgive
and never despise.
 
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
 
And as He laid down His life
we offer this sacrifice
that we will live just as he died:
willing to pay the price
willing to pay the price.
 
How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives
so that others may live.
 
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
 
How beautiful the feet that bring
the sound of good news
and the love of the King.
How beautiful the hands that serve
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
 
How beautiful
how beautiful
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
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CONFUSION AND DOUBT

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 7 john-baptist-prisonConfusion and doubt hits all of us at times. We might be doing what we think God wants but confused by the response of others so that puts us briefly in doubt mode. We wonder if we are doing what God wants. We wonder if we are doing things correctly or in the best way. We are confused by attitudes around us. We are confused when we get stuck in the prison of our doubt. So, we ask God.
 
John had been in prison some months (Luke 3:19–20), but he knew what Jesus was doing because his own disciples kept him informed. It must have been difficult for this man, accustomed to a wilderness life, to be confined in a prison. The physical and emotional strain were no doubt great, and the long days of waiting did not make it easier. The Jewish leaders did nothing to intercede for John, and it seemed that even Jesus was doing nothing for him. If He came to set the prisoners free (Luke 4:18), then John the Baptist was a candidate!
 
Luke 7, New Living Translation
Jesus and John the Baptist
18 The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
 
20 John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”
 
lUke 7 prison21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. 22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 23 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
 
24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
 
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’
 
28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
 
29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
 
31 “To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? 32 They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
 
‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t weep.’
 
33 For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
 
DOUBT VS UNBELIEF
Luke 7 doubting God.jpgIt is not unusual for great spiritual leaders to have their days of doubt and uncertainty. Moses was ready to quit on one occasion (Num. 11:10–15), and so were Elijah (1 Kings 19) and Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7–9, 14–18), and even Paul knew the meaning of despair (2 Cor. 1:8–9).
 
There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a matter of the mind: we cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it. Unbelief is a matter of the will: we refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what He tells us to do. “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong,” said Oswald Chambers; “it may be a sign that he is thinking.” In John’s case, his inquiry was not born of willful unbelief, but of doubt nourished by physical and emotional strain. So John sends people to confirm his belief in Jesus.
 
Luke 7 who is GodJesus did not give the two men a lecture on theology or prophecy. Instead, He invited them to watch as He healed many people of many different afflictions. Certainly these were His credentials as the promised Messiah. He had not established a political kingdom, but the kingdom of God was there in power.
 
There are many people today who criticize the church for not “changing the world” and solving the economic, political, and social problems of society. What they forget is that God changes His world by changing individual people. History shows that the church has often led the way in humanitarian service and reform, but the church’s main job is to bring lost sinners to the Savior. Everything else is a by-product
of that. Proclaiming the gospel must always be the church’s first priority.
 
What we think of ourselves, or what others think of us, is not as important as what God thinks. Jesus waited until the messengers had departed, and then He publicly commended John for his ministry. At the same time, He exposed the sinful hearts of those who rejected John’s ministry.
 
HOLY PAUSE
What do we think God would say about us?
 
REMEMBER WHO JOHN WAS
John the Baptist was not a compromiser, a reed blowing in the wind (note Eph. 4:14); nor was he a popular celebrity, enjoying the friendship of great people and the pleasures of wealth. John did not waver or weaken, no matter what people did to him. John was not only a prophet, but he was a prophet whose ministry was prophesied (see Isa. 40:3 and Mal. 3:1)! The last of the Old Testament prophets, John had the great privilege as God’s messenger of introducing the Messiah to Israel.
 
John’s ministry was a turning point in both the nation’s history and in God’s plan of redemption (Luke 16:16).
 
WHY IS JOHN IN PRISON?
Luke 7:29–30 are the words of Jesus, not an explanation from Luke (see Matt. 21:32). They answer the question some of the people were asking: “If John is such a great prophet, why is he in prison?” The answer is, because of the willful unbelief of the religious leaders. The common people accepted John’s message and were baptized by him as proof of their repentance. They “justified God,” which means they agreed with what God said about them (Ps. 51:4). But the religious leaders justified themselves (Luke 16:15), not God, and rejected John and his message.
 
NOTHING SATISFIES AN UNBELIEVING WORLD
Jesus compared that generation to people who were childish, not childlike, and nothing pleased them. He was probably referring to the scribes and Pharisees in particular. John was an individual who declared a stern message of judgment, and they said, “He has a demon!” Jesus mingled with the people and preached a gracious message of salvation, and they said, “He’s a glutton, a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners!” They wanted neither the funeral nor the wedding, because nothing pleased them.
 
Luke 7 why I believe
HOLY PAUSE
Are we childlike in our faith?
 
Are we childish in our behaviors, wanting our way, never being satisfied?
 
JUSTIFIED – AGREEMENT WITH GOD
People who want to avoid the truth about themselves can always find something in the preacher to criticize. This is one way they “justify themselves.” But God’s wisdom is not frustrated by the arguments of the “wise and prudent.” It is demonstrated in the changed lives of those who believe. This is how true wisdom is “justified.”
 
John believed. His belief and mission to tell the Truth landed him in prison. Doubt was temporary and alleviated by a little talk with Jesus via his friends.
 
Have you had a little talk with Jesus lately?
 
LUke 5 certainDear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior
Sometimes we doubt if we are doing what YOU asked is right and good. We need affirmations and clarification at times. Sometimes we doubt when we think you are not working in the middles of challenges. But you come and relieve us. We wonder if we heard you correctly when you sent us out to certain tasks. Our belief has not changed in the You. You are God and we are not. It’s just that sometimes this doubt becomes our own prison. We get stuck and cannot move forward. So we pray for restored joy of our salvation. We pray like David, cleanse me, take away from my thinking all that offends you. Renew a right Spirit within me. Renew our thinking and behaving.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…
 
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven fill my soul
He bathed my heart in love and He wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus makes me whole
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry, He will answer by and by
And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
Find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
 
I may have doubts and fears, my eye be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer, He knows my every care
And just a little talk with my Jesus makes it right
 
Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell Him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry, He will answer by and by
And when you feel a little prayer wheel turnin’
And you will know a little fire is burnin’
You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right…
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YOU RAISE ME UP!

Luke – Doors Wide Open!
 
Luke 7 when I am downWhen I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me
 
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be…
(Josh Groban)
 
As I read our next passage this song plays in the background of my mind this morning. Our compassionate Lord and Savior watched a funeral procession and learned quickly (or already knew because He is also God in the flesh) that a mom lost her only son. He felt her pain within him for that is compassion. Jesus knew he could not only raise the boy but he could raise the faith and restore the joy of the mom by giving her back her only son. Wow.
 
Jesus also raised the hope and faith of all who watched this episode of power. Fear at seeing death to life swept the crowd but praises to God quickly followed. “God has visited his people today!”
 
Luke 7 walk on stormy seas
HOLY PAUSE
When has God visited you with power to raise you up from depression, mourning, doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, and the unknown?
 
Did you praise Him immediately?
 
What did your praise look and feel like? Was it all to His glory?
 
Luke 7, New Living Translation
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
Luke 7 raise up a boy
11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
 
16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.
 
GOING A BIT DEEPER…
Luke 7 compassionate SaviorNain was about twenty-five miles from Capernaum, a good day’s journey away, yet Jesus went there even though He was not requested to come. Since the Jews buried their dead the same day, it is likely that Jesus and His disciples arrived at the city gate late in the afternoon of the day the boy died.
 
We can only marvel at the providence of God when we see Jesus meet that funeral procession just as it was heading for the burial ground. He lived on a divine timetable as He obeyed the will of His Father (John 11:9; 13:1). The sympathetic Savior always gives help when we need it most (Heb. 4:16).
 
THINK ABOUT IT…Two only sons met.
 
One was alive but destined to die, the other dead but destined to live. The term only begotten as applied to Jesus means “unique,” “the only one of its kind.” Jesus is not a “son” in Luke 7 you raise me upthe same sense that we are, having been brought into existence by conception and birth. Since Jesus is eternal God, He has always existed. The title Son of God declares Christ’s divine nature and His relationship to the Father, to whom the Son has willingly subjected Himself from all eternity. All the Persons of the Godhead are equal and each has a specific place to fill and task to fulfill.
 
What an act of tenderness it was for Jesus to take the boy and give him to his rejoicing mother. The whole scene reminds us of what will happen when the Lord returns, and we are reunited with our loved ones who have gone to glory (1 Thess. 4:13–18).
 
luke-7-jesus-will-raise-you-up.jpg“Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away”…
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
What a story of resurrection, of you raising us up as part of your plan. Because you rose again, defeating the final enemy called death, we will rise again and be with you forever! AND in the meantime, you raise us up when we need it most, at just the right time, above troubles, grief, depression, and worry when we believe in you and look to you for help. Thank you, Lord! Thank you for raising my thoughts up to you today. Please continue to raise me up!
In Jesus Name, Amen
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